Jewelry Photography Tips: How to Take Better Photos for Mobile Devices

I love Instagram. I’m relatively new to it, but I find myself spending more time on Instagram than any other social media platform. Spending all this time on Instagram got me to thinking about photography, specifically jewelry photography and how to take photos that look great on my phone’s little screen.

Should they be simple or more colorful? Closely cropped for a teaser effect? Do props detract from the subjects in small-screen photos?

I don’t know the answers to my jewelry photography questions, but I know who does! Jim Lawson, the official Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist photographer and host of top-rated videos on jewelry photography, has the answers. I asked him to share some advice on how to take photos that look better and catch more eyes on those little mobile device screens, like smartphones and tablets.

Tips for Better Jewelry Photography on Mobile Devices

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Follow us on Instagram at @InterweaveJewelry!

Tammy: When taking jewelry photos to share on apps like Instagram, we know the photos will be small when viewed on smartphones and tablets. How can we take better photos for small screens?
Jim: I think you should only be doing single objects. Crop in tight with just a comfortable amount of space and experiment with various colors until you get something that works. I would stay with solid colors and I explain how to use them in my videos.

T: What tips can you offer to help us take jewelry photos that will appear more eye-catching on small mobile devices?
J: Again I think you need to crop in tight; also don’t use props, and use a colored background that separates well with the piece.

T: When taking jewelry photos that we know will be viewed in small sizes on smart phones and tablets, such as for Instagram, what should we consider when composing our jewelry layout?
J: I would look at the jewelry portfolio on my website. The thumbnails of each image give the viewer a good idea of what is there, and everything I have on my website looks good on a smartphone.

T: What should we avoid in jewelry photos to make them more successful and attention-grabbing on small screens?
J: You need to pay attention to your exposure and color balance. There is software that you can get for smartphones that will work much better than the built-in software. One such software is Snapspeed. What you can use may depend on whether you have a, Apple or Android device. But be prepared to do some additional work to your images; it’s difficult to get a perfect exposure otherwise. And you can use the same light source with your smartphone that I describe using with a full-size camera.

T: Are there any formatting concerns to keep in mind when sizing and cropping photos to be viewed on small mobile devices?
J: You should use the original file as a starting point. If you do need to crop, you’re better off using the original file size.

Identify Jewelry Photography That Speaks to You

Look at the banner image at the top of the page, from the @InterweaveJewelry Instagram account. Which images jump out to you? Which ones do you see first? Once you’ve identified the attention-grabbing images, compare them and see what they have in common. For me, the photos with solid and wood backgrounds look clean and digestible in one glance, so I want to see more of them. The fourth image on the top row of the brass bracelet also stands out. I think that bit of shine on the metal catches my eye, but also it’s a well-cropped, close-up view. The image under it also jumps out at me–the solid turquoise background with a pop of red is very attention grabbing. I can learn from just those two images some tips for making my mobile jewelry photography better. I hope you can, too!



Learn how to take better jewelry photos and improve your jewelry photography for mobile devices, as well as print and websites, with Jim’s videos.


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